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A New Subscription Model (Performing Arts Organizations Take Note)

Posted by on February 22nd, 2010
Posted in Blog, Nonprofit Messaging, Performing Arts    Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Here’s the challenge: your performing arts organization is seeing dwindling ticket sales in this down economy. Your subscriptions have been in decline since 2001, a point at which fewer and fewer people wanted to commit to such long-range plans.

What do you do?

Take a look at ACT in Seattle, a regional theater company that is at the heart of the Seattle performing arts community.

ACT has added a third option for patrons to fill the seats. In addition to ticket sales and subscriptions, patrons can pay $25 each month ($20 for those under 30) to join ACT. The membership works exactly like a gym or museum membership. Come whenever you want, as often as you want. Love a play? Come see it again without paying more.

This is an idea Mission Minded was discussing with some of its clients several years ago. Our research showed that beyond the core subscriber audience, for many potential patrons the idea of a subscription was hard to understand. People understood “season tickets” and they understood “membership”, but “subscription” remained insider jargon. The confusing language plus the larger price tag created a barrier to getting people to make a bigger commitment to the performing arts organization.

Membership, instead, helps people make a bigger commitment without the fear and confusion.

Consider the numbers: ACT’s 4-play subscription is $180, while a 1-year membership earns $300. Giving people a new and familiar way to attend can make your product more attractive, make renewing automatic, and help your bottom line.

We’ll be closely watching how ACT’s new membership program works out. It’s great to see innovation and risk taking in the performing arts, not just on stage, but also in the way we get people to come to the show.

Learn more:

  • https://www.acttheatre.org/TicketsPlays/NewBasicMembership.aspx
  • http://kuow.org/program.php?id=19396

Zach Hochstadt is a Mission Minded Founding Partner and runs Mission Minded’s Denver office, leading the company’s creative teams in the areas of message development, writing, graphic design, and web design and development.

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